Online Marketing on a Shoestring

Every business owner knows that the internet has become a necessity in order to maximize the reach and scope of their business. It is no longer a question of whether they should or not build a website, but they know they MUST leverage the internet if they really want to remain competitive in their field. For those just starting a business, however, the prospect of adding the cost of effective online marketing to their budget can be a bit daunting.

Whether you are an internet marketer or a brick and mortar business owner looking to leverage the power of the internet, the fact is that it is not enough to just build a website. Even the best SEO maximized websites will require advertising and marketing in order to drive adequate traffic. But, what if you have a marketing budget of under $500? Can you still have a profitable online marketing campaign? Here is a rundown of what I have found to be the BEST tools for online marketing on a shoestring.

To-Do List

Set-up a Blog. If you have your site already established, add a subdomain to it (blog.yoursite.com) and install WordPress as the blogging platform. If not, there are free blogging platforms you can use. The idea of a blog is to use it as a centralized hub to which you will direct all your links and marketing. This way you direct potential customers to valuable content, not just a sales pitch. It you have the blog as part of your site, it will also help your page ranking as you regularly update and add new content to your blog.
Create a Video Related to Your Business. Notice I said “related to” not “about” your business. The difference? You will not be creating an infomercial or a pitch-fest for your business. If you own a jewelry store, make a video about how to identify quality diamonds. If you own a pro-golf shop, teach the proper way to grip the club. You get the idea. Provide REAL value, then add a link to your blog at the end of the video. Make sure there’s a post in your blog expanding on the content of your video. Post it to YouTube or Viddler. You can also embed the video to your blog.
Turn Your Video into an Article. Write a brief 300-500 word paragraph including the same content you used for your video and blog. Publish it in free article directories (my favorites are ArticleBase and EzineArticles). Make sure to create a bio for the resource box which sells YOU as an expert. Include a link to your blog and your site within the resource box.
Blast Your Content Using Social Media. This is the last step in the process. Make sure to announce your latest video and/or article post using social media sites like Twitter and Facebook. You can also direct your followers to your blog using the links on your profiles in the social media sites.
Where’s the money?
Total cost for the strategies outlined above is actually $0, unless you have a self-hosted blog, in which case you spent probably about $20 for the purchase of the domain name, and the hosting account. Now, that’s what I call online marketing on a shoestring!

Now, the truth is that this method, while effective, will take a bit longer to build than using paid advertising. You can help speed things up with this method by spending a bit more, though. For instance, I would recommend spending between $150-$200 to have a customized background created for all my social media sites. I would also invest in a membership to a video blasting service (there are several around, and a Google search can lead you right to them).

One of the greatest things about the internet is that it has leveraged the playing field for small and large businesses alike. You do not have to break the bank in order to have an effective, strategic marketing campaign online. What you DO need is persistence and determination. You should strive to complete this entire cycle at least twice a week in order to yield results. But, if you are looking for online marketing on a shoestring, it will most definitely be worth your efforts and time! Get to work!